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  1. #1

    VA - Darren Bruce Hillis, 14, Norfolk, 12 March 1973


    Darren Bruce Hillis

    Endangered Missing from Norfolk, Virginia since March 12, 1973

    Age: 14 -- Height: 6'4" -- Weight: 150 lbs -- Hair Color: Brown -- Eye Color: Hazel


    Darren was last seen walking to his school bus stop in Norfolk, Virginia on March 12, 1973. He never arrived at school and has never been heard from again.


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    Charley Project

  2. #2
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    I believe Darren Hillis was abducted from his school bus-stop by an evil, predatory monster from the Houston area of Texas. A Polaroid photograph of a young boy held captive in shackles was found just a few years ago by a young filmmaker named Josh Vargas. The photo was found among the possessions of a young man named Elmer Wayne Henley, known accomplice to the infamous mass-murderer of the early 1970's, Dean Corll.

    The boy in the Polaroid photo bears great resemblance to 14-year-old missing Norfolk boy, Darren Hillis. Although the photo is grainy there are certain matching attributes that can be clearly seen. The boy's unique hair-style for one, which is identical in both pictures. And even more telling is the pair of pants that the victim is wearing -- red pants with white stripes -- an exact match to the pants that Hillis was wearing the day he went missing.

    This case may hinge on digging up the long-buried remains in Houston; those boys who were never unearthed (not that I'd hold my breath waiting for that to happen). Because this is a case without a body.

    What's different about this victim - and please understand that this identification is not officially verified - is that he wasn't FROM or IN Texas when he disappeared. He disappeared from Norfolk Virginia, from a bus stop on his way to school one morning. Specifically, it was March 12, 1973 during one of those eerie silent periods when there was no accounting for Corll's activities. It was at the front end of that four month dormant period, actually.

    In attempting to shore up his identity I enlarged the photo in Photoshop. Then I just sat and cried. The look of terror on his face is so sad. And he had enormous tears welled up in his eyes. I did make an observation from this, though, that may indicate timeline. And I apologize; I feel like a callous creep for observing anything other than human suffering in this horrendously sad photo.

    Okay...this is just theory but I think that picture may have been taken in Corll's van immediately after Darren was abducted. In the polaroid, his tears are welled up in his eyes and are just about to spill but they don't appear to have rolled down his cheeks yet. And he's straining against the board which he would probably tire from fairly quickly. Plus, Corll was known to have curtains in his van along with torture equipment and there is a wavy line that could possibly be the bottom edge of curtains. I think this photo may have been taken right after the abduction. Once he started crying I don't think he would stop for a long time. And there would probably be a line down his cheeks from the tears. Pure speculation, I know. But if it's correct then I think what we're seeing in Darren's face is the initial panic that set in after the momentary shock of being grabbed.

    I hope the detectives follow through on this case and don't let it be covered up like all the others. I would love to see the public put some pressure on the Houston PD to finally bring closure to the rest of the families. And here's yet another family devastated by Corll who needs to have their boy brought home.

    Last thoughts on this: That Darren disappeared from Virginia, so far from Texas -- and assuming that I am correct in identifying him -- means that young boys anywhere in the country could have fallen victim to Corll. He admitted to killing and burying boys in California. Does anybody know when he made that statement? Maybe he went on various trips to visit his perv buddies during those dormant periods in Houston. Disappearances during those times should probably be looked at with this in mind by anybody seeking to ID more candy-coated nightmare victims.
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    Last edited by pokypuppy67; 06-12-2014 at 09:05 PM. Reason: Add victim photo
    Sittin' on the rock, circlin' the sun, jus' tryin' to be good.

  3. #3
    Wow, that boy in the picture could really be Darren it breaks my heart....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by IvanaBeverlyPotts View Post
    Wow, that boy in the picture could really be Darren it breaks my heart....
    Mine too. I wish I could reach through that photograph and give him a big hug and tell him that everything would turn out okay. And that it would have been. Did you know Darren?
    Sittin' on the rock, circlin' the sun, jus' tryin' to be good.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by pokypuppy67 View Post
    Mine too. I wish I could reach through that photograph and give him a big hug and tell him that everything would turn out okay. And that it would have been. Did you know Darren?

    No I didn't. I'm just a sleuther (from Sweden) hoping that all these people on here come home one day. Do you have any connections to Darren?

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    They do resemble each other quite a bit, and both were wearing boots. Am I reading it wrong or is there a large discrepancy in height between the MP and the UID "swimsuit boy"?

  7. #7
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    I believe this UID is the one he is being compared to. My main concern is that Darren is listed at over 6 feet tall but this UID is estimated at 5'2" to 5'7". Do we know if both these heights are correct? Or was Darren really just 5'4" instead of 6'4"?

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1010umtx.html

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogperson View Post
    I believe this UID is the one he is being compared to. My main concern is that Darren is listed at over 6 feet tall but this UID is estimated at 5'2" to 5'7". Do we know if both these heights are correct? Or was Darren really just 5'4" instead of 6'4"?

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/1010umtx.html
    I'm thinking that it was a typo, and that you're correct in your hunch that they meant to type in 5'4". 6'4" would be awfully tall for a 14 year-old boy, especially since boys tend to have their growth spurt later. Certainly my memory of jr. high and high school is that a lot of girls towered over most of the boys until about late 10th- or 11th grade, when the boys suddenly shot up in height almost overnight. Also, 6'4" and 150 lbs. would be pretty thin, and in the Charley Project/NamUs picture, there's a kind of soft fullness under his chin. Nothing so much as to be overweight, but I don't think he'd have the roundish cheeks and under-chin fullness at 6'4" and 150 lbs. I know that it says the weight is just an approximation, but even with 10 or 15 lbs. either way, give-or-take, the ratio of weight-to-height would be worth remarking on as a descriptor. Mr. Mouse is 6'3" and 165-170 lbs., and if I'm supposed to meet him at a restaurant or someplace, all I have to say is, "Is my husband here yet? He's really tall and really thin," and everyone will immediately know exactly who I'm talking about.

    One other point: as someone who was alive in the 70s, I will say that there's not anything particularly unique about the boy's hairstyle, in either picture. That deep part/long side-swept bangs look was pretty common in the 70s--Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees had that same style for much of his 70s career, and if I dug out my old class pictures and jr. high yearbooks, half the boys would have that same hairstyle. Remember that blow dryers and curling irons didn't become popular until the mid-70s, and things like hair gel and mousse weren't really widespread in average-town, USA, until the early 80s. If you had some body and wave in your hair, there really wasn't much you could do (especially for a guy) other than either buzz-cut it, let it frizz, or grow the bangs out enough to weigh some of the curl down. Doesn't mean that it's not the same boy in both pictures, just don't put too much weight on the hairstyle as identifier.

    ETA: I've been watching the Costa Rica vs. Netherlands game (World Cup) for the past couple of hours, and the commentators can't stop talking about how tall the Dutch goalie is--in fact, he's a substitute goalie who was brought in for the shootout at the end specifically because at 6'4", he's several inches taller than the original goalie, and all the other players on the field. So yeah, if they're carrying on about a grown man being 6'4" (and statistically, Dutch men are the tallest in Europe on average to start with), then I really don't see anyway that Darren was 6'4" at 14, at least not without it being a medical condition of some sort. Might help in narrowing down any unidentified remains, or maybe the "captive boy" photo can be measured for angles, size of head (or whatever), and some forensic specialist could estimate height from there.
    Last edited by Mouse; 07-05-2014 at 07:02 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
    I'm thinking that it was a typo, and that you're correct in your hunch that they meant to type in 5'4". 6'4" would be awfully tall for a 14 year-old boy, especially since boys tend to have their growth spurt later. Certainly my memory of jr. high and high school is that a lot of girls towered over most of the boys until about late 10th- or 11th grade, when the boys suddenly shot up in height almost overnight. Also, 6'4" and 150 lbs. would be pretty thin, and in the Charley Project/NamUs picture, there's a kind of soft fullness under his chin. Nothing so much as to be overweight, but I don't think he'd have the roundish cheeks and under-chin fullness at 6'4" and 150 lbs. I know that it says the weight is just an approximation, but even with 10 or 15 lbs. either way, give-or-take, the ratio of weight-to-height would be worth remarking on as a descriptor. Mr. Mouse is 6'3" and 165-170 lbs., and if I'm supposed to meet him at a restaurant or someplace, all I have to say is, "Is my husband here yet? He's really tall and really thin," and everyone will immediately know exactly who I'm talking about.

    One other point: as someone who was alive in the 70s, I will say that there's not anything particularly unique about the boy's hairstyle, in either picture. That deep part/long side-swept bangs look was pretty common in the 70s--Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees had that same style for much of his 70s career, and if I dug out my old class pictures and jr. high yearbooks, half the boys would have that same hairstyle. Remember that blow dryers and curling irons didn't become popular until the mid-70s, and things like hair gel and mousse weren't really widespread in average-town, USA, until the early 80s. If you had some body and wave in your hair, there really wasn't much you could do (especially for a guy) other than either buzz-cut it, let it frizz, or grow the bangs out enough to weigh some of the curl down. Doesn't mean that it's not the same boy in both pictures, just don't put too much weight on the hairstyle as identifier.

    ETA: I've been watching the Costa Rica vs. Netherlands game (World Cup) for the past couple of hours, and the commentators can't stop talking about how tall the Dutch goalie is--in fact, he's a substitute goalie who was brought in for the shootout at the end specifically because at 6'4", he's several inches taller than the original goalie, and all the other players on the field. So yeah, if they're carrying on about a grown man being 6'4" (and statistically, Dutch men are the tallest in Europe on average to start with), then I really don't see anyway that Darren was 6'4" at 14, at least not without it being a medical condition of some sort. Might help in narrowing down any unidentified remains, or maybe the "captive boy" photo can be measured for angles, size of head (or whatever), and some forensic specialist could estimate height from there.

    HEIGHT

    On NamUs, height can be entered in feet and inches or just in inches. The default, unfortunately, is set to inches only, which is the less common usage in the U.S. We typically use the language of "X Feet, Y inches" in describing a person's height. The dual entry options actually make the height input much less reliable. It's just too easy to miscalculate it or to forget altogether that a conversion to "inches only" is required. Either that, or that the optional link for feet and inches must be clicked before inputting. I know I personally have to stop and think momentarily in order to convert inch values back to feet and inches, which is the only way I can visualize a person's height in my head. The sad reality is that a lot of discrepancies exist in the height data between NamUs and other missing sites. Personally, I wish NamUs would do away with the option to enter heights in "inches only". They'd probably be just as well to have two drop-down menus; the first labeled "feet" and the second labeled "inches". Then we'd only have to contend with the inaccuracies caused by mis-measurement and incorrect estimations. I rarely make any exclusions based on height. I consider it to be way too unreliable. At best, I might consider it a supportive element in possible matches if it aligns with other confirming factors.

    HAIR STYLE

    I don't consider Darren's hair-style unique in comparison with the entire population from the 1970's. I consider it unique in comparison with the population of teenage males who are known to have disappeared in the 1970's. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has browsed list after list of missing person files or searched decades of online missing persons records. We who feel this particular calling scrutinize regularly over facial elements, clothing, possessions, physical attributes, and yes, even hair styles. Among all those records I have never seen another young man with a mop of hair so identical to Darren's. To dismiss that similarity based on the idea that the hairstyle was "common to the era" would be negligent and irrelevant. Thankfully, most boys from that era didn't mysteriously disappear and therefore we needn't even concern ourselves with how they wore their hair. But, anyway, if you read just after the part about his hair (pun unintended), I also mentioned his pants. They are a match to the description of the pants that Darren was wearing when he disappeared...and those were much more "unique" than, say, a simple pair of jeans. Beyond that, if you factor in the timeline -- that this boy was an unknown victim during the same period of time that Darren was missing -- it all adds up to a pretty solid likelihood.

    And the more I think about it the more the theory makes sense that Corll went to Norfolk to visit one of his like-minded, scumbag friends. During that period of time -- February thru May of 1973 -- both of his accomplices were straying away from him and were not bringing him any more boys. And he couldn't obtain boys very well on his own -- in fact, he had a rule that there had to be at least one more captor than victim. I'm sure this was a rule born out of necessity -- he wasn't unusually big or strong so one of his victims could potentially gain control of the situation unless they were outnumbered. So when David and Elmer stopped coming around the only option he had which would allow him to continue satisfying his bloodlust was to find a new kidnapping partner. And apparently, that meant taking a road trip to Virginia. Note that Darren disappeared on March 12th, 1973, inside the four-month time-frame that Corll was unaccounted for in Texas. And in regards to the captive photo taken of Darren, which was the only known victim photo found in Henley's possession, it makes sense that it was taken at a time when Henley wasn't present. And that it was later sent to or given to him, possibly as an enticement to come back to Corll and begin procuring his victims again.

    So...while this is all theory and conjecture at this point -- nothing has been officially verified -- it is nonetheless based on known fact and, I believe, is an entirely plausible theory of the events as they may well have occurred.
    Sittin' on the rock, circlin' the sun, jus' tryin' to be good.

  10. #10
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    Was Corll ever in the Navy, do you know? I wonder if that might be a connection to Norfolk.

    Also, I wonder if the unique pants might be a way to trace ID, like if maybe they were only sold in a chain of stores in a certain part of the country or something. Is there anything about brand or tags in the pants?


  11. #11
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    No, he was in the army. I don't know what he did to others or what was done to him in the army but that was when he discovered he was gay and it appears to have been the catalyst that led to his murderous activities. It may also have been where he met his network of like-minded pals.

    I've never seen any information that is known about Darren's pants. I don't know if his mother ever told anyone where she bought them (I'm making assumptions that he had a mother at that time and that she purchased his clothes; that's how it was in our family but it could have been otherwise in his). Those pants probably had no special significance to his family until he ended up missing. I wish we could see the police files. I think this case is just long-ago history to them. It would be a LONG long-shot but maybe we could find a similar pair at some point in the vintage section on eBay. I don't know how we could verify that they were a match to the same pants he wore, though.
    Sittin' on the rock, circlin' the sun, jus' tryin' to be good.

  12. #12
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    Darren (2).jpg

    I found a family photo and have cropped it so that you only see Darren. In the photo, according to the family member who posted the picture on Facebook, he is wearing the same shirt and pants that he wore on the day that he went missing. In the un-cropped photo he is taller than his mother and looks to be approximately the same height as his father.

  13. #13
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    Is there any indication of how tall his folks are/were? I tower over my mother in pictures, but only because she's under 5 foot.

    Also, the pants are described over on the Charley site as being "red bell-bottomed pants with white stripes down the leg." pokypuppy, do you know, or can you tell from the UID photos, does that mean the pants have a stripe down the outside of each leg? Like a tux or marching band pants do? Or something different? I'm on e-bay a fair amount, so I'll keep an eye out in the vintage section for anything similar.

    I also noticed that the Charley Project site says that his "last seen wearing" includes an Army jacket. His dad's, maybe? Not necessarily a connection to Corll's Army days, since a gazillion people and kids have some kind of connection to the Army (I'm an Army brat myself)...but interesting nonetheless.

    The more I think about this, the more I think you might be on to something, pokypuppy. The only thing that bothers me is the distance from Virginia to Texas. I wonder, would it be more likely that Corll would have gone from Va to Tx looking for a victim? Or that somehow Darren would have gone from Va to Tx and run into Corll there. Although there doesn't seem to be any suggestion that Darren might have been a runaway, which seems to have been the standard assumption for a kid that age at that time.

    The UID photo isn't great quality, but can anyone make out anything that might resemble the "round indented chicken pox scar on the bridge of his nose between his eyes" in that photo? You can see it a little in the Charley Project photo (at least, I think you can). My husband has a similar chicken pox scar between his eyebrows, and I have one on my forehead by my hairline, and they're still visible now in middle-age. (Clearly, the husband and I are of the same "pre-chicken pox vaccination era" as Darren.)

  14. #14
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    From the information given about Darren, he was seen at his school bus stop on his way to school on the day he disappeared. He never made it to school, though. It doesn't make sense that he would have gone to wait for the bus and then suddenly decide to run away. It's possible, as teenagers do all kinds of crazy things, but consider this: if Corll was in VA visiting a porn buddy they might have driven past Darren's bus stop and lured him away. Corll had created a rule that there had to be at least one more abductor than the number of victims they were going to nab. And I just read past the March 1973 date (Darren disappeared on Mar 12th) in The Man With The Candy and it confirmed that Elmer did leave Houston during that month to start a new life in Mt. Pleasant. He didn't return for a couple of months. David was getting - or was already - married and was gone too at that point. So maybe Corll, now all alone, took a trip to VA to visit a friend (probably another degenerate who was willing to hunt boys with him).

    Finding a single Polaroid of a handcuffed boy that was sealed in an envelope in a box of Elmer's junk would make some kind of sense. Since Elmer wasn't along with him, Corll may have taken the photo to give him as an enticement to return to their wicked ways. Elmer was actually asked about the photo and claimed he didn't recognize it. He had no reason to lie. I think Dean gave it to him but he never opened it.

    If Corll was going to find additional victims he really HAD to leave Houston to do it, so as to work with a partner who could help him. And that Darren disappeared while Corll couldn't be nailed down as to being in Houston, and when he had a good reason not to be...it all adds up very tidily. Police would never have known about victims in other states because they never looked.

    If they could substantiate to a reasonable degree that Darren Hillis, kidnapped from Virginia, was a victim of Corll, could this become a federal case? It would be so nice to get the case out of the unmoving hands of Houston PD and to actually have someone investigate the murders.
    Sittin' on the rock, circlin' the sun, jus' tryin' to be good.

  15. #15
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    Jupiter, I'm really glad that you came into the picture. Your contributions have been extremely valuable. I thought I had sent you a message awhile back but I must have written it and not sent it. I will try to find it and send.
    Last edited by pokypuppy67; 08-10-2014 at 03:42 AM. Reason: Correct wording
    Sittin' on the rock, circlin' the sun, jus' tryin' to be good.

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